Devotions

A Holy Week reflection

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Light for the Way devotional series

We invite you to take a peek inside our weekly Light for the Way devotional series provided for staff.

By Pastor Chris Wheatley, PHS Senior Director of Pastoral Care Services

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” —Matthew 5:14-16, NIV

It is natural, as Holy Week gives way to Easter, for us to think about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And while this is most frequently and naturally done by reflecting upon the details of his Passion as recorded in scripture, today I would like to look at it from a slightly different lens.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus first explicitly mentions his death with the words, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” “Glorify,” in English usually defined as an intense form of praise, is hardly how most of us would describe the kind of painful, public death he is about to die. Indeed, crucifixion was intended to shame its victim, making him appear weak and pathetic. Hardly glorious.

After saying this, Jesus immediately mentions how a seed, after it dies, produces more seeds. He connects his “glory” directly with the desire to affect others, to make them like himself.

That’s especially significant because it isn’t the first time he’s connected those ideas. In the Sermon on the Mount, when he tells us that we are the light of the world, and that the purpose of light is not to be hidden but to be seen and give light to others, he ends with the words, “That they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Once again, glory is connected with shining light upon others, so that they may see. It is connected not to praise and worship, but to changing lives, to transformation.

Interestingly, the Greek word for “glory” might help explain this connection. It is “doxa,” which certainly means “glory,” but also “reputation,” “understanding of,” and even “opinion.” Don’t forget that “orthodox” literally means “right opinion,” and can be used to describe adherence to political parties or scientific theories just as easily as religions.

So to “glorify” something is to cause people to have the right opinion of it, and in the New Testament that refers almost exclusively to God. And now I hope the connection begins to make sense.

When Jesus describes his death as his “glorification,” he isn’t talking about being praised while dying on a cross. He is telling his followers that he will show them who he really is by showing them what he will sacrifice for them. That to understand what it means to be the Christ is to understand a love that will suffer.

When Jesus tells us that our light will cause the Father to be glorified, he isn’t saying that other people will begin singing hymns when they see us in action. He is saying that by serving and caring for others, we are causing them to understand the God who is love.

As Holy Week gives way into Easter, it is natural for us to think about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And a big part of that can indeed be gathering to worship, public proclamation, and writing devotions. But if we really want to glorify him, we need to show others what he’s about by our actions. Acts of compassion, service and volunteering are the way to reveal the true nature of Christ, “that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Pastor Chris WheatleyRev. Chris Wheatley serves PHS as Senior Director of Pastoral Care Services. He is an ordained Lutheran pastor and has served in hospice, eldercare, hospital, HIV/AIDS and congregational settings. He and his wife Nicole are perpetually outnumbered by cats and Dobermans.

The Light for the Way series provides staff with an examination of a biblical reading to deepen our focus on scripture. Thank you for engaging with this series as we seek wisdom through prayer and reflection as a Christian Ministry.

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